Marisha Pessl

Marisha Pessl writes:

"A writer's favorite books serve many purposes -- they are lighthouses, comforts, and cornerstones. These five selections -- ranging from social satire to fantasy to historical thriller -- I keep close to my desk, rereading them whenever I want to remember the thrill of losing myself inside a timeless story."


Answered Prayers
By Truman Capote

"A searing takedown of privileged New York society, but also a mystery unto itself. Capote's final unfinished novel in essence destroyed his life when it was published in excerpt form in Esquire magazine. Though Capote claimed at the time he was almost finished with the novel (and that it would be his life's crowning achievement), after his death, chapters he insisted existed -- and could describe in great detail -- have never been found. His editor believed they only existed in his head. Others believe the pages are locked away in a vault or security box, location unknown. Nobody knows for certain."


By Vladimir Nabokov

"A book so textually rich and multilayered, no matter how many times you come back to it, you find something you've never seen before."





The Big Sleep
By Raymond Chandler

"Chandler gave life to the timeless hard-boiled detective Philip Marlowe in this seminal crime novel about blackmail, kidnapping, and 1930s L.A, creating an archetype out of the world-weary but lovable loner seeking the truth."



The Alienist
By Caleb Carr

"This historical thriller about a serial killer and the first forensic criminologist is a blast, unfolding at breakneck speed against a backdrop of raunchy, seedy 1896 New York."




The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
By C. S. Lewis

"A childhood classic -- and the book that made me want to become a writer."


April 19: "What you see first, after the starting gun's crack, is a column of bobbing runners, thousands of them, surging downhill..."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.